SPOILERS BELOW: This review contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.
Some of the complaints critics and audiences had from the recent multiversal MCU projects said that other universes were introduced in the film, but weren’t properly explored over the course of the film. I’m glad to say Across The Spider-Verse doesn’t suffer from this problem.
The film opens on Earth-65 (Gwen Stacy’s universe), continues on Earth-1610 (Miles Morales’ universe), and travels to Earth-50101 (Pavitr Prabhakar’s universe), after which we are introduced to the Spider-Society’s headquarters on Earth-928. Every single one of these universes is explored to a great extent, making us familiar with the characters and their experiences.
What I didn’t like was the inconsistency of multiversal terms between different Marvel properties. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness established the MCU as Earth-616, while Miguel O’Hara refers to the MCU as Earth-199999. Absolute points in What If…? and canon events in this film are exactly the same thing, but have different terms.
Jason Schwartzman voices the Spot, a scientist working for Kingpin who turns into, well, the Spot after the Super-Collider incident in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He is hilariously retconned to be the very scientist who gets hit by the bagel Miles throws right before the hunt for Spider-Man at Alchemax.
The development of the Spot as a character is impressive. He goes from an inexperienced weirdo to a supervillain over the course of the movie. He tears the fabric of the multiverse to find a functioning Super Collider and absorbs its powers. He goes on to prove just how powerful he is to Miles, before escaping.
Every character’s universe features a distinctive art style. Every single environment tells us a lot about the culture and art forms of that place. Mumbattan (a portmanteau of Mumbai and Manhattan), for example, is Pavitr Prabhakar’s (Karan Soni) homeworld. As a child, Amar Chitra Katha used to be my go-to publisher for comic books, and the art style for Mumbattan was undoubtedly inspired by the comic publisher.
Gwen Stacy’s homeworld, was clearly inspired by her solo comic series, apparent from the rich, vibrant neon colors of her homeworld, which also seems to complement her situation – her father hunts Spider-Woman as a police officer without realizing he’s after his own daughter. Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) has a distinctive metal-rock scrapbook-esque 2D look, which leads Miles to say “How do you look even cooler under your mask?”.
The fact that this film handled more than a hundred cameos better than MCU movies have handled just a few proves just how good it is. The Spider-Society is full of characters we’ve seen before; and ones that are yet to be seen in live-action.
Spectacular Spider-Man, Insomniac Spider-Man, Spider-Cat, Spider-Rex, Spider-Horse, Spider-Monkey, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield (archival footage) are just a few of the cameos and rest assured, there will be plenty more shockers. Andy Sandberg’s Scarlet Spider and Metro Boomin’s Metro Spider are some other cameos from the film.
Overall, Across the Spider-Verse delivers fanservice but doesn’t capitalize too much on it. The years of work are apparent in every frame of the film, and every frame ends up being a work of art. The only complaint I have is the fact that the movie ended, although it is justifiable to spread the story across two movies. The film, unlike its predecessor, is clearly a two-part movie, and is meant to be enjoyed in that manner.
5 out of 5 Stars.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now playing in theaters worldwide.